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Consider your initial contact with a prospective answering service. How responsive are they? What kind of impression does that make?
Phone Call: If you call them, how long does the phone ring before they answer? Are they professional when they do answer? Do you feel they are focused on your call or do they sound distracted? An answering service should answer your call within five rings, but it’s ideal if they answer by the third.
Email: If you first reach out to them by email, how long does it take them to email you back? The professional telephone answering service knows that a quick response is essential. Long gone are the days when it was acceptable to respond within twenty-four hours or by the next business day. That got reduced to one hour and then became shorter. It’s reasonable to expect that during the business day a good answering service will respond to your email sales inquiry within thirty minutes. Give them bonus points if it’s five minutes or less.
Contact Form: The same applies if you fill out a contact form on their website. Though shocking, some answering services never respond at all. But the good ones will react within thirty minutes or less. This doesn’t refer to the obligatory automated message that appears within seconds after you click submit. Instead, this is the time it takes for a personalized response for them to address your initial questions.
Web Chat: Many professional telephone answering services have an option for text chat on their website. If you go this route, how long does it take for an agent to text you back? You should receive a personal response within five minutes but preferably in about sixty seconds.
What Does This All Mean? Each of these four contact methods is telling, with the speed and effectiveness of the response indicating what you can expect going forward.
If they take a long time to respond to your initial request for service, it’s reasonable to anticipate the same pace with their subsequent follow-up communications. A slow initial response and subsequent follow-ups could drag out the sales process and thwart your efforts to find an answering service quickly.
However, even more critical, is this the type of reaction you want your customers and prospects to encounter when they interact with your company through your answering service? Just as an answering service makes a first impression on you when you contact them for service, they will also make a first impression on your customers by how fast they respond.
Select an answering service that makes a great first impression. This will go a long way to providing quality service to both you and your callers.
Richard L. Hutcherson is the director of operations for Answering Service One, a new kind of answering service that wants to become your number one resource to handle your communication needs. Contact Richard at 865-505-0456. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan. Check out Answering Service One to see if they’re the right answering service solution for your business.